The Botanica

Still Water Saints, Alex Espinoza, 2007

Still Water Saints Map of Aqua Mansa Women of Aqua Mansa

This first novel is a collection of vignettes of characters who patronize the local botánica and of its owner in a small community of Agua Mansa (Still Water), 50 miles east of Los Angeles. Most chapters are named after major saints; their protective domains and their holidays. The botánica is a shop with an eclectic collection of books, artifacts, and natural medicines from Catholic, African-Caribbean and Mexican origins and even includes influences from the East (Buddhism and Zen). Its owner is a childless older woman, a respected, even by the local priest, member of the community . The author Alex Espinoza is the eleventh child born to a family in Tijuana Mexico and raised in LA. He has a masters from U.C. Irvine. Espinoza takes us into a largely unknown American world where we get to meet normally invisible characters, mainly women, and learn about some strange but very human traditions.